Chapter 10 - Hob Gone Wild

‘Where we headin’?’ Hob asks. His heavy ceramite encased boots clank loudly on the deck plating as he boards the Aquila lander. Now around a foot taller than usual, he has to duck slightly at the top of the ramp to avoid banging his forehead.

‘Check Station K-273,’ Devalt replies, not bothering to glance up from his dataslate.

‘Sounds excitin’.’

‘Peskin and his team are missing,’ Anna says, stowing her medkit under her seat before strapping herself in. ’I’d say that warrants an investigation.’

‘More like they got lost,’ the seneschal sighs. ‘Peskin can be a little…flighty.’

‘You mean cowardly,’ Hob says as he backs into the wall-mounted restraints. ‘Thought he’d never shut up about those cogitators at the briefin’.’

‘No servitors, doctor?’ the seneschal inquires. Anna shakes her head.

‘I didn’t think they would be necessary, so I left them with Ethan. He’s been anxious to clean their occipital targeting arrays.’

‘Bah, won’t need ‘em,’ Hob scoffs. His arm servos actuate with a quiet whir as he gestures to himself with a downward flourish. ‘Look at me – unstoppable.’

‘Too bad your mouth is as well,’ Devalt quips as Erata and Janus board. ’You’ve been going on about that armor since you got it.’

‘Went through a lot of trouble to get it, goin’ to enjoy it,’ Hob shrugs.

Ethan’s eyes had lit up the second the power armor was brought into the mechanitorium. He took great pride in creating a specialized berth on the lander to accommodate the substantial bulk of the suit. He even customized the pauldrons to Hob’s liking – the left shoulder now bears the silver crest of the dynasty, while the right carries the symbol of Hob’s tribe on Mortressa.

The new coat of Shilwulf blue paint peeks out from beneath the plethora of freshly applied purity seals. In combination with the gleaming relief of a skull and crossbones across his broad chest, Hob looks more intimidating than ever before.

Following the pyromancer like a shadow, Janus shuffles to the seat next to Erata. It’s almost painful to watch him sit down, his old bones creaking and popping more than a neglected anterior torque cog. It seems Erata has given up on trying to shake the astropath as she doesn’t even bother to give him a disdainful glance.

The lander begins to power up, the familiar reverberation of the engines coursing through the deck. Anna glances out of the port window, watching the Hymn slowly fall away as the lander banks. When she looks away from the window, Hob catches her eye as he’s putting on his helmet. He winks at her before putting on his helmet, the armor hissing quietly as the hermetic seal engages. Only a week ago she was doubtful they would ever speak again, but now they seem closer than ever before.

The journey to the check station proves to be a short one, lasting only twenty minutes before the lander docks. Hob glances through the window with a concerned expression.

’Don’t look very big.’

The seneschal chuckles. ’I’m actually surprised they have a staffed check station to begin with. Feel free to remain on board, I don’t think we’ll need an armed escort to speak with an administratum employee.’

‘Never know, could have gone crazy from the solitude.’

’I’m sure I can handle things if they get out of hand,’ Devalt replies sarcastically. ‘Janus, Erata, you’re with me.’

‘Why do I have to go?’ Erata asks.

‘Because where he goes,’ the seneschal stabs his finger at Janus, ‘You go. Captain’s orders.’

‘Whatever,’ Erata says, rolling her eyes as she follows Devalt off the lander onto the check station.

They walk into a darkened room, the soft green glow from a cogitator terminal across the room the only illumination.

‘Hello?’ the seneschal calls out. A second later the overhead lights stutter to life, revealing the entire room to be little larger than a shop on the Hymn’s promenade. Erata and Devalt glance at each other, slightly confused. Save for the three of them, there do not seem to be any other signs of life.

‘Maybe they stepped out for a bit?’ she suggests.

’I’ll check the terminal, could be there’s-’

Suddenly the rapid chattering of electrical relays cuts the seneschal’s sentence short. They look toward the source of the noise, an alcove about three feet wide by six feet tall. The small space seems to be jammed packed with an odd assortment of machinery.

As they look on, two rust-covered spider-like legs extend slowly from the mass of jumbled parts. The pointed tips strike the floor, servos groaning as the legs flex and pull a box-shaped section of machinery from the wall. Two more legs emerge, helping to counter-balance the bulky machinery.

Before their eyes the box unfolds, revealing three over-sized mechanical arms and a torso draped in tattered, rust-colored robes. Other than the rust-pitted vox-caster peeking out, little else is revealed about the face hidden within the cowl’s shadow. A singular red bionic eye flares to life, its focusing array buzzing as it settles on the three visitors.

‘Lexmechanic Volkmar, I am Seneschal Thurman Devalt from House Shilwulf.’

Even the seneschal, who has embraced cybernetics and prefers them to their inferior human counterparts in nearly every regard, finds himself put off by the construct standing before him now. Certainly he is no stranger to the hybrid of man-machine, but the idea of being folded up and put into a coat closet, waiting in dormancy in perpetuity, is something entirely different.

At first, Volkmar doesn’t respond. Devalt unconsciously grits his teeth at the grinding sound emitted from underneath the Lexmechanic’s robes. The grind turns to a loud whir, and the red light of the bionic eye begins to glow brighter than before.

Erata startles slightly as Volkmar suddenly lurches forward, his pistons hissing loudly. Electricity arcs between the joints on each arachnid-like leg with the motion until he stops just feet away from them.

Greetings, Seneschal Thurman Devalt and guests the vox-caster crackles. Riddled with static, his mechanical voice sounds like an old phono recording. You are inquiring about Ship: Righteous Intent, salvage and reclamation. Your permits are in order.

‘Yes, that’s correct,’ Devalt replies. A green light turns on near the base of Volkmar’s cowl, projecting a wide beam onto the three visitors. Slowly it makes its way up to their heads, pauses briefly, then continues scanning down to their feet.

‘What the-’ Erata protests, shielding her eyes as the beam passes over her face.

Volkmar bombards them with data, covering everything from their height, to weight, to skin hydration levels.

‘Lexmechanic, if you’ll just give us your seal, we can be on our way to the Intent,’ Devalt says, eager to both get on his way and get off this check station.

Warning! Body temperature of female subject: 38.11 degrees Celsius. Warning: this is 1.11 degrees greater than baseline. Proceed with evaluation?

‘No, don’t proceed,’ Erata says with annoyance. She glances at Janus, then to Devalt who can barely suppress the grin fighting to break free on his face. ‘I run a little hot, that’s all.’

‘That won’t be necessary, Lexmechanic,’ Devalt says.

Accessing data records for the Righteous Intent. The teeth-gritting grind returns as Volkmar churns through the no doubt near-endless reams of data about everything the salvage belt contains. Finally, the maddening sound stops.

Record found: Invoice number: 1573993961.791 Righteous Intent. Docking area: 5734.26. Warning! Casualty rates of salvage teams sent to Invoice number 1573993961.791 are two standard deviations above normal. 27.9% of you will not return.

Erata looks to her right at Janus, then to her left at the seneschal. ‘Sucks for you two.’

Devalt gives her a sideways glance, opening his mouth to correct her calculations. He seems to think better of it and just shakes his head instead.

’We’ll keep that in mind, Lexmechanic. Now if you’ll just approve the permit.’

As you wish, Seneschal Thurman Devalt

A mechadendrite appears from behind the Lexmechanic and extends toward the dataslate Devalt is holding out. Stopping just an inch above the slate’s surface, a thin finger-like extension unfolds and taps the screen once. A chirpy beep is heard as the Lexmechanic’ approval is accepted.

‘Thank you, Lexmechanic,’ Devalt says, wasting no time in heading for the check station door.

Before they leave, he casts a glance over his shoulder to see Volkar folding back into the alcove. The lights flicker before winking out, returning the room to its almost completely dark state. A shudder runs down his spine as the momentary image of himself being in the Lexmechanic’ place flashes through his mind. He turns and steps through the airlock, never intending to return to check station K-273 again.

The docking clamps engage with a loud thud, shaking the lander slightly.

‘Arriving at destination, Righteous Intent, the lander’s auto-pilot servitor announces over the ship’s com. ’Occupants may disembark.

‘Any idea why the Intent was sent to the salvage heap?’ Erata asks. From a cursory inspection through the lander’s windows, it seems as though the vessel only has minor battle damage. Devalt checks his data-slate, then shakes his head.

The Righteous Intent, docking area 5734.26. Class: Repulsive Grand Cruiser. Looks like it’s been through the scrapping process, macrobatteries, engines, and the bridge have already been salvaged, but nothing to indicate why it was sent here in the first place.’

‘Seems odd, doesn’t it?’

Devalt shrugs slightly. ‘Some superstitious people believe this particular class of ship is cursed. More than a few voidsmen tales about vessels bound to Chaos who deliver their crews straight into eternal damnation. If what Volkmar said concerns you, feel free to stay on the lander.’

‘No thanks,’ Erata replies, giving the smirking seneschal a glare. ’I’m not really one for superstition.’

‘Devalt,’ Hob’s voice comes over their combeads. ’Libram’s tech rats reviewed the logs from Peskin’s ship.’

‘Anything of interest?’

‘Seems like the pilot was reportin’ to Peskin that he was sendin’ messages back to the Hymn.’

‘But we didn’t receive any messages. Why would the pilot lie?’

‘Beats me. Some of the messages report sightin’s of additional people aboard the ship and some other weird goin’s on. The the messages suddenly stop.’

’We’ll meet you and your men at the airlock, Hob.’

‘Roger that.’

‘Is there a problem, seneschal?’ Anna asks.

‘Nothing we can’t handle, doctor. There might be hostiles aboard the vessel, so we need to stay sharp.’

‘Is that all?’

‘Yes, why?’

Anna shakes her head slightly. ‘You seem apprehensive is all. I suppose it’s just my own jitters, don’t mind me.’

Crossing the airlock threshold, they step onto the RIghteous Intent. The respirators of their void suits hissing rhythmically with their breaths.

‘What the-’ Erata asks, swaying unsteadily on her feet.

At the same moment, Janus puts his hand to his forehead as he leans against a bulkhead for support.

‘Aldos? What’s the matter?’ Devalt asks.

The astropath slowly shakes his head. ‘Something isn’t right here,’ he rasps.

‘I feel it, too,’ Erata agrees. ‘Did you hear that?’

‘Hear what?’ Devalt asks, looking around.

‘Voices,’ Janus replies. ‘They are difficult to understand, garbled. Though I do not understand why.’

’What’s goin’ on?’ Hob asks as he and his mercs join them.

‘The psykers are having a difficult time.’

‘Maybe they should stay on the lander?’

‘No, it’s alright,’ Janus replies. ‘I can deal with the voices now. I wasn’t expecting such impressions, it was my mistake.’

‘Impressions?’ Anna asks. The astropath nods.

‘Ships carry with them psychic imprints of their past. Erata and I are sensitive to these memories, though myself much more so.’ Janus nods to himself, looking around them at the walls of the corridor. ‘This one has much to tell, so much so that it overwhelmed the both of us.’

‘Let us know if you pick up anything we should be concerned about,’ the seneschal requests. He already didn’t like having to set foot aboard a cursed ship. It certainly doesn’t make him feel any better that the psykers started freaking out the second they crossed the threshold.

Anna cracks open her tome, it’s parchment pages fluttering slightly in the null grav environment.

’Don’t worry, Doc, I got your back,’ Hob says over his vox caster.

‘He is with me always, I walk without fear,’ she smiles. ‘Though I admit, having heavily armed backup can’t hurt.’

They continue in silence, the lumens attached to the helmets of their void suits illuminating their immediate surroundings. With no gravity they must depend on their magboots to keep them anchored to the deck plating, so the going is slow. Save for Janus who, being voidborn, is completely at home in this environ. In fact, he seems almost whimsical as he pushes himself along, as if he’s swimming in slow motion.

‘Hold up,’ Hob says over the com. A second later Janus groans.

’What’s up, Aldos?’ Devalt asks, readying his weapon.

Janus’s fingertips grip the nearby bulkhead as he grimaces in pain. ‘Betrayers,’ he rasps through clenched teeth. ‘The light will set you free…’

Erata and Devalt share a worried glance. Hob and his men turn toward the astropath, their guns at the ready in case a creature of the warp suddenly manifests.

‘Janus?’ Anna asks with concern. The telepath shakes his head as if trying to clear his vision.

‘They turned on their captain, something terrible, vile, poisoned their minds while they were in the warp,’ Janus pants as if in pain. ‘Something made it through the veil.’

‘Is it still here?’ the seneschal asks, his hand tightening around Vengeance’s grip.

Janus shakes his head. ‘These are but glimpses of the past. Something terrible happened in the room ahead, it’s imprint is very strong.’

Hob motions for his men to follow as he takes point, his armor providing cover for those behind him. As he begins his cautious approach, he catches a glimpse of movement to his left.

‘Dammit, Doc. Don’t do that.’

’Don’t worry, Hob,’ she replies with a smile of assurance while patting his arm gently. ’I’ll be right here to protect you.’

The soldiers glance at each other, desperately trying to stifle chuckles. Hob silences them with a single glare of warning. They quiet immediately, realizing that whatever real or imagined thing awaits them on this ship will pale in comparison to his wrath.

Anna peeks under Hob’s arm into the room. It takes her mind a moment to understand what she’s looking at.

Hundreds of pieces of flat metal in varying lengths hang in the room. Somehow they defy the lack of gravity, appearing as if suspended in liquid.

Captivated, Anna reaches toward the closest piece of mirror-like chrome, tentatively poking the metal with her gloved hand. It moves ever so slightly, gently bumping into the next shard. Like a wave, the motion cascades throughout the room until all of the shards are swaying like they are dancing in a breeze.

‘He weeps for his men,’ Janus says cryptically.

Realizing that they are exposed to the vacuum of the void and therefore cannot hear sound, Anna thinks she’s imagining what she’s hearing. When the others begin looking around, however, it becomes apparent that they hear it, too.

Music, faint at first but growing in volume, begins playing. The piece seems like it should be pleasing to the ear but the cadence is halting, giving the song a distinctly malevolent tone.

Janus, on the other hand, watches the scene of what occurred ages ago in this room play in his mind. The Intent’s captain sits at his desk, tears flowing down his cheeks. He pours a vial of dark viscous liquid into his amasec before caressing the image of a woman on a picslate on his desk. He kisses his aquila before downing the drink in one gulp. Something unseen pounds on the door, while the sound of indistinct voices and screams grow in intensity. The vision fades away as quickly as it came, but leaves its impression on the psyker nonetheless.

Though not fully understanding why, Anna finds her shoulders sagging with the weight of despair.

‘Tacebis’, she whispers as she makes the sign of the Emperor. The music fades away as the shards of metal come to rest once more, the final notes lingering in their heads.

‘That ain’t right,’ Hob’s deep voice says over the com, breaking them out of their collective stupor.

Warily, they continue on. Hob and his men switch to hand signals to check each doorway before motioning for the others to continue on.

Hob holds up his forearm, his armored hand clenched into a fist, signaling the others to halt. His shoulder-mounted lumen settles on the ruins of a port side bulkhead.

‘Are those claw marks?’ Erata asks.

Devalt inspects the doorframe, finding it marred by deep gouges. Although he would very much like to deny their resemblance to those made by some sort of beast, the pattern of the deep gashes says otherwise. The door itself appears to have fared little better, as it swings freely in the null grav by just one of its hinges. Clearly it vehemently desired whatever was in this room once upon a time.

‘Warp spawn,’ Janus hisses angrily, answering the question weighing on all of their minds. ‘The traitors sabotaged the Geller field. This was but one of the twisted abominations the warp spewed forth upon this vessel.’

‘What was in there?’ the seneschal asks, warily eyeing the deep shadows in the room.

‘It was where the ship’s chaplain took refuge,’ the astropath says shaking his head sadly. ‘I am afraid the demon proved too much for him. For all of them.’

‘Daemon?’ Anna asks. janus looks at her, his mouth contorting into his familiar disconcerting blue-toothed smile.

‘Do not worry, doctor. He died in a valiant attempt to save the survivors. But then, who among us could make such an endeavor without sacrificing themselves in the process?’

The Mortressans go on alert as an otherworldly wail fills the corridor. Their lumens reveal nothing, however, only the corridor ahead strewn with debris.

‘Remnants of the past,’ Janus nods sagely. ‘Sometimes they are powerful enough for even the unchosen to hear.’

The astropath moves past the group, gently bouncing toward their destination at the end of the long corridor. Though he seems unperturbed, Janus is troubled by the visions of the chaplain’s gruesome demise at the hands of his demonic tormentor.

‘Where is your Emperor now?’ the voice of the warp beast taunts. ‘Has he abandoned you, child?’

The chaplain’s pained screams fill his head as the vision of the broken servant of the Emperor kneels on the ground before his executioner, his eyes hollowed bloody sockets flickers into his mind. Janus propels himself forward, eager to put distance between himself and the cursed chamber.

When the others eventually catch up to the astropath, they find him stopped before a door.

’That’s odd,’ Devalt says. He steps forward, inspecting the door to confirm his suspicions.

‘What is?’ Erata asks.

’It’s an airlock,’ the seneschal replies. ‘And it shouldn’t be here.’

‘Should we open it?’

Devalt considers the question. ‘If Peskin is still alive, he’s likely beyond this door. The problem is, we’re likely to face void pirates.’

‘Void pirates?’ Anna asks. ‘Here at Omnicron?’

‘Salvage belt is as good a place as any. They set up a small artificial environment for themselves and strip the ships of anything valuable.’

’Wouldn’t the authorities detect them?’

Devalt shakes his head. ‘No reason to look for them. A few people going missing here and there won’t attract too much attention. Plus most wouldn’t bother with a ship of this size.’

Or its reputation… the seneschal thinks to himself.

‘Hear that, boys?’ Hob’s voice booms over the com. ‘Get to hunt down some pirates today.’

’It’s likely trapped,’ Devalt points out. ‘As soon as we open the door we’ll need to be vigilant.’

’I’ll take void pirates over the creepy shit back there anyday,’ Erata says, hitching her thumb over her shoulder.

The group parts, giving Devalt room as he inspects the lock. He removes a small leather case from one of the many pockets on his suit and selects two of the small tools held within. Inserting the slender metal pick into the lock, he delicately maneuvers the tension wrench held in his other hand.

‘Sometime before I die would be great, One Eye,’ Hob chides.

‘I know you can’t possibly understand what I’m trying to do here, Hob,’ Devalt replies, not wavering in the slightest in his attentions to the mechanism. ‘So I’ll put it in simple terms for you to process. Lock hard. Take time.’

‘Could just shoot it.’

‘And then, after the good doctor is done cleaning up whatever is left of those among us who get hit by your ricochets, we can get back to trying it my way.’

‘Just tryin’ to help. Growin’ old here.’

Finally the seneschal nods, backing away to let the soldiers open the door.

Once they sweep the small interior chamber, Hob motions for the others to join them. The door clanks shut behind them, and after a few moments the red light in the chamber turns green. All eyes fall on Devalt.

’We’re good,’ he nods, looking at the auspex. ‘No life signs on the other side of the door and we have breathable atmo.’

The interior door opens, revealing what was likely once a beautiful arboretum. Everyone but Hob takes a moment to remove their helmets, breathing in the fresh oxygen.

‘Ugh,’ Erata says, wrinkling her pixie-like nose. ‘What is that smell?’

‘Sulphur,’ Anna mutters, looking around them.

Surrounded by twisted flora, it is clear that the plants and trees here are xenos in origin. The thick dark tree branches are contorted into unnatural shapes and covered with thick, spiny leaves. The other vegetation is little better, covered in long unfriendly-looking thorns and nettles. Still, origins aside, the plant life seems enough to provide adequate oxygen.

‘Shit,’ Hob mutters. ‘Devalt, have a look at this.’

They begin studying a rather ambiguous-looking metal box that had been concealed behind one of the larger plants near the airlock.

‘We trip it?’

‘Looks that way.’

‘What are you two going on about?’ Erata asks with annoyance.

‘We triggered a proximity alarm when we came in,’ Devalt explains. ‘So they know we’re here.’

‘Great,’ she replies dryly. ‘Well at least there’s only one way for them to come at us.’

The three of them look at the door at the opposite end of the arboretum.

‘By fire be cleansed,’ Janus whispers hoarsely.

‘What is he going on about now?’

The astropath hobbles down the path through the arboretum, stopping every so often to inspect one of the gnarled trees.

‘He burned them all,’ Janus continues. ‘But it still wasn’t enough. The damage was already done.’

‘Look, I don’t know what happened on this ship, but he’s seriously giving me a case of the heeby-jeebies,’ the pyromancer says. ‘Can we find Peskin and get this over with already?’

‘The fire witch has a point,’ Hob says. ’Didn’t come here to look at plants.’

‘Agreed,’ Devalt replies.

Hob and the Mortressans take point, training their weapons on the arboretum’s exit. When the door opens, however, they are greeted by an empty corridor. As they progress, their exhalations turn to icy mist as the temperature takes a noticeable drop. By the time they reach the next bulkhead door, Anna’s teeth are chattering.

‘Auspex is reading life signs on the other side,’ Devalt cautions as he draws his melta pistol.

‘It could be Peskin and his team,’ Anna points out.

‘Well, you know my motto, Doc,’ Hob says drawing his mono-sword.

‘Shoot first and don’t bother asking any questions at all?’ Erata suggests.

‘Naw, that ain’t it, Fireball.’

An awkward silence falls over the group as they wait for Hob to deliver the expected punch line, but it never comes.

‘Alrighty then,’ Devalt says stepping forward and tapping the keypad on the bulkhead door. ‘Get ready.’

He tries to turn the handwheel, but it doesn’t seem willing to budge.

‘Step aside,’ Hob says. Though his face is obscured by his helmet, nearly everyone there can feel the self-satisfied grin on his face.

He grips the wheel, grunting as he leans into the turn. At first it appears he has the same trouble, but the power armor’s servos kick in. The wheel turns with a creaking protest until the lockbolts free themselves with a clang.

The door swings open, revealing a well-lit chamber containing a myriad of equipment, but no signs of life hostile or otherwise.

‘Looks clear,’ Hob says. Followed by Anna, he and the Mortressans proceed in to secure the room.

‘I don’t understand,’ Devalt says sweeping the auspex back and forth. ‘According to this there should be a large group of people right there.’

The moment he focuses the device on the location, the bulkhead door slams shut behind them with a loud whump.

‘Clever, clever,’ an unfamiliar voice says. It seems to come from nowhere and everywhere at once, causing the group to look around in confusion. Still the chamber remains empty save for them.

‘Ut sciatur,’ Anna commands, holding her Aquila in front of her. ‘In nomine Deus Imperator.’

The room shimmers before their eyes, the illusion of the empty chamber dropping away to reveal a much more sinister truth.

Unusual symbols are painted on the walls and ceiling of the room. At the center of the chamber stands a robed figure, who was apparently in the process of drawing similar symbols around a circle carved into the floor. In her hands she clutches a staff, each end tipped with a rather wicked-looking long blade. In front of her stands a group of well-armed cultists, their weapons trained on the trespassers.

‘Heresy!’ Anna growls. As if by will alone, her leather-bound tome appears in her left hand as she begins chanting litanies of faith. She throws Hob a sideways glance, curious to find him removing his helmet in a situation as volatile as this.

That’s odd, why would he-

‘Hold your fire!’ the robed figure orders. Though the voice contains some feminine qualities, it screeches like nails on a scholam chalkboard. ’I’d like to-’

The woman collapses to the ground, but none of her people make a move to help her. With the exception of Anna’s emphatic prayers, everyone else remains eerily silent. Whether because they don’t comprehend what they’re witnessing or held in some by some bewitchment, she does not know.

‘Doc,’ Hob whispers, turning toward her. ‘Look at me.’

Reluctantly she turns away from the mob. Her fervent pleas to the God Emperor fall away as a sharp pain punches her in the chest. She stumbles toward him, reaching out her hand for support.

No! Hob thinks with dread, but the only response he receives is the witch’s malicious cackling inside his mind.

+ Do you see the despair in her eyes? It seems so fitting that she die by her guardian’s hand +

‘Hob?’ Anna’s brow knits in confusion, blood spilling from her lips as she mouths the question. Suspended in the air, the ruby red droplets float upwards in a slow, almost surreal, way. Her beloved tome falls from her grasp as consciousness begins to fade.

The others look on in stunned horror. At first glance, the scene has an almost touching quality about it, the small doctor reaching up, hand covering her friend’s heart. Then their minds process the fact that she’s impaled on Hob’s mono-sword, and that very same hand is covered in her own blood. It seems so unreal, so impossible that none of them move to intervene.

+ ‘Her blood sings to you doesn’t it, beast? Perhaps when we are finished dispatching your comrades I will allow you the pleasure of rending the flesh from her bones +

Hob growls in defiance but it is only he who hears it, the witch has taken complete control of his body. To his dismay, he finds the physical strength he has taken such pride in failing him miserably now. Without the ability to put up even a token resistance against the witch, that same strength will be turned on his friends. He’ll kill them all, and there isn’t a thing he can do to stop it.

+ Unstoppable + the witch throws his own word back in his face.

‘Did you honestly think I had anything to fear from an already damned priestess of the corpse god? Now shut up!’

His words drip with dark, hateful contempt, but whether Anna hears them or not is unknown. As she chokes on her own blood, he watches the light drain from her eyes. With a dream-like disconnection Hob reaches forward and pushes her off his blade as if she is nothing more than a bothersome voidrat.

She falls backward in a graceful arc, her magboots keeping her anchored to the deck plating. Her body sways slightly, as if she were underwater. One hand clutches at the growing stain of crimson on her chest while the other seems to still reach toward him. The witch allows him a moment to absorb a last agonizing glimpse of his dear friend before turning to the shocked onlookers.

‘Can you feel it?’ he hisses, looking at Janus. ‘I know some among you can appreciate the power that flows so strongly here.’

His gaze travels to Erata who, for the first time since he’s met her, appears absolutely at a loss for words. ‘Perhaps you would allow me to show you how powerful you can truly be without the restrictions of your petty emperor? But the rest of you weak-minded-grox…you dare profane this sacred site and attempt to disrupt what we have been working to achieve for so long?’

She forces Hob to look from the seneschal to his own mercs with a scowl of utter hatred. With a deep feeling of dread, he realizes he can do nothing to stop the hell which is about to be unleashed. Through no will of his own his arm stretches outward, the witch’s staff flying into his waiting palm. The ends of the weapon begin to emit a deep purple glow a second before the warp blades flare to life.

‘I am afraid that cannot be allowed, not when we are this close to revelation’ he says, his voice laced with evil. ‘Your blood will serve as the final offering!’

GM Note

This was my penultimate achievement as a game master. About half-way through the session, I e-mailed Hob’s player that he was going to be mind-controlled by an enemy psyker. I also instructed him to stab Anna and then to go into this monologue that I provided him. The players were so stunned they stared in open mouthed silence as he got up from the table and delivered a stunning performance. Only at the end did Janus’s player start stuttering, “No. No. No. No. I want to do something! He can’t just sit there and monologue” To which I replied, “He kind of just did.” This was EPIC!

Session Summary: 01-04 Hob Gone Wild
Previous Chapter: Sudden But Inevitable
Next Chapter: Fallen Angel

Chapter 10 - Hob Gone Wild

The Shilwulf Dynasty Eck Snowmoon